Flashback Friday: Loralee Lhotka

This week’s Flashback Friday case is Loralee Sue Lhotka — another one of those cases where I have precious little information and doubts about what I do have.

NamUs gives Loralee’s date of disappearance as January 1, 1975, but they also say she disappeared en route to a doctor’s appointment. Nobody makes medical appointments on New Year’s Day, although hospitals and perhaps a few urgent care clinics would be open. I think it’s more likely that the actual date of disappearance isn’t known and whoever entered the case into NamUs put down January 1 to encompass the entire year of 1975. I put in the Charley Project casefile that she disappeared on some unknown date that year. She would have been 19 or 20 at the time; she was born in June.

NamUs also gives Loralee’s race as “unsure.” The Washington State Missing Persons database entry for her lists her as white. She looks like she could have some Native American blood, but it’s very hard to judge by the photograph. For what it’s worth, the name Lhotka is of Czech origin. It is said that Loralee may use the last name Spamola, a VERY rare surname that’s almost unknown in the United States.

As for what caused her disappearance… I would have to guess foul play. Loralee may have decided to hitchhike to her doctor’s appointment and it’s possible she picked the wrong ride. Her wallet turned up in the Wenatchee National Forest in 1978. I wish I knew where exactly; the forest covers 2,700+ square miles over three counties.

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12 thoughts on “Flashback Friday: Loralee Lhotka

  1. Julie January 28, 2017 / 4:08 pm

    Just curious…was Bundy ever consider a suspect in this one. Supposedly, according to Wikipedia he was in the Seattle area in January of 75 and she seems to partially fit his victim profile, long dark hair parted in the middle (although she does appear to be of some type of mix race, which doesn’t seem to fit his normal victims)…..just wondering, when I looked at her picture and saw where she was from Bundy was the first thing I thought about.

    • Meaghan January 29, 2017 / 12:30 pm

      I don’t know if Bundy was ever a suspect.

      • Julie January 29, 2017 / 2:49 pm

        guess she didn’t fit the profile. He preferred to prey on white women

  2. diamondlil16 January 28, 2017 / 10:57 pm

    I was wondering if she was of Inuit descent, or some other Canadian native descent. To me she strongly favors someone of North American native rather than European ethnicity.

    Did she have any siblings? Just wondering if she had any family still living that might recall some of her friends she had or if she was known to hitchike.

    • Meaghan January 29, 2017 / 12:30 pm

      She looks Native American to me too. Maybe she married someone of Czech descent and that’s why she has a Czech last name.

      • Laurie February 2, 2017 / 10:31 am

        If she is of Native descent there’s also a good chance she was adopted. Congress passed the Indian Child Welfare Act in 1978 in response to the alarmingly high number of Native children being removed from their homes by both public and private agencies and being adopted out to non-Native families.

    • Laurie February 2, 2017 / 10:59 am

      Could be. Spamola seems to be a surname associated with people who live in British Columbia and Alberta. At the time Loralee disappeared, there would have been no need to show your passport to cross the border from Canada to the US. Maybe a relative in Canada reported her missing some time after she disappeared, given the January 1 date that Meaghan surmises is not correct since doctors offices are not usually open that day.

      • diamondlil16 February 3, 2017 / 12:38 am

        Thanks Laura for that info. This could expand then to a possible unidentified person’s remains being unnamed and unclaimed if she made it into Canada. I wonder how often US and Canada check with each other on cases.

        I’ve seen some facial reconstructions that aren’t very accurate, and in Loralee’s case the artist may not take into account Native. Although I have hooded eyes myself, I have I think only a tenth or less Native American and red hair. Whereas Loralee has the high cheekbones and lovely dark hair and features that strike me as being from the First Nations or Inuit.

        I’m now wondering if her remains may have already been found but has just been misidentified.

  3. Sonya January 29, 2017 / 1:25 am

    On Namus, under Clothing and Accessories, in the Accessories, it says “wallet found Blewett Pass.”

    • Meaghan January 29, 2017 / 12:17 pm

      Ooh, I missed that. Thanks for pointing that out.

      • Sonya January 30, 2017 / 5:09 am

        You’re welcome. I’ve been reading this blog for a couple months now(and the main charley project page), and I love that you’re getting the word out on missing cold cases, and I also see how much work you put into it. Thanks for everything you do. 🙂

  4. Keith Bigjoe February 22, 2017 / 5:15 pm

    Who reported her missing? Was it her family? I often wonder about family’s that are dysfunctional and family’s that will use facebook to keep the missing up front with a financial reward. She does look native American. At that time I heard that maney natives wanted to avoid being Indian but these days native pride is very important. It would be great if more information about her was available!

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